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How are you doing, really doing, right now? And this past year?

Posted on: April 19th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering how the leaders around you are doing, too. How they’re really doing. If so, read my #newblogpost, it’s a check-in with two ladies here in our region. They go deep. And their responses may just surprise you. Or reassure you.

An Open and Honest Check-In with Two Women in Leadership

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

As women, in times of crisis, we lean in. We step up, time and time again, as our most authentic selves. And we put in the work. It’s never been more obvious than this past year. Day in and day out, women have shown up for their people. Pandemic and all. 

Research shows that, in very general terms, some of our natural tendencies make us more effective leaders. And those natural skills and approaches have proven to be even more effective and appreciated during the pandemic. 

Female leaders are coming into their own, confidently claiming their style and approach. 

Recently, I checked in on friends here in the Susquehanna Valley, to reconnect, learn how they’ve fared this past year, and discuss the evolution of leadership.

A Check-In With Meagan Given

It’s been a hard year, one full of loss and isolation. One Meagan Given, Executive Director of White Rose Leadership Institute, knows this all too well. She’s a wife, mom, and thought leader here in the central Pennsylvania region. And her most visible role is leading the Give Local York movement. 

Here are the highlights from our recent conversation…

How are you doing, a year into the pandemic?

I’m pretty terrible, to be honest. This past year has been filled with so much upheaval and trauma. New Year’s Day 2021 was not a magic switch for me because I always knew 2021 would represent the year my dad would pass away after a long illness. We’re in the final stages of that as a family right now. The one silver lining is that my kids are back in school part-time and are thriving.

In what ways have you grown as a leader, a human over the past year?

This year has reinforced to me the importance of asking, listening, and empathizing. As humans, we are enduring something traumatic, and everyone has their own challenges. Being a kind and good human is always at the core of how I lead my life, professionally and personally.

What are you super passionate about right now?

Honestly, it’s hard to say because I feel this year has been so numbing. I continue to be passionate about kindness and about being there for one another. I think that’s why Give Local York is such a good fit for me.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means being the captain of the team and listening and leading with empathy.

Why is it so important to you to mentor and empower the next generation of leaders? 

I would not be where I am today without the people who took me under their wings and believed in me, and I think it’s so important to pass on the mantle. I also know that it is the passion and creativity of the next generation who can make things happen because I was once a part of that.

I serve as the advisor for the Class of 2024 Graham Scholars at York College. One good thing to come out of this year has been my relationship with my students and being inspired by what they have to offer our community.

Meagan’s story speaks to the seasons of life. On the outside, I would have never known she was going through a time of devastating loss. She leads her organization with such strength; to an outsider, her grief isn’t visible. 

It’s a reminder of the hard, painful seasons. And how as leaders, particularly female leaders, we rise to the challenge. And we show compassion to those around us from a place of empathy and understanding; we recognize each person’s hardships, challenges, and real lives. And the very human experience of life.

Catching Up With Carolyn Warman

Many of you know Carolyn Warman from her days at Leadership York, where she mentored, coached, and built a legacy of servant leadership. Now, she’s enjoying a new journey, an entrepreneurial one, where she coaches and consults with nonprofits.

At the one-year mark of the pandemic, we recently caught up. 

How are you doing, a year into the pandemic?

I went through the entire grief cycle over the past year and have finally arrived at a more hopeful stage. I now find joy in little things such as the glorious birds at my feeders and reading to my granddaughters via FaceTime.

In what ways have you grown as a leader and as a human over the past year? 

I have learned it’s OK to take things a little slower. Since a leader’s power develops through self-reflection, it has been a gift to have more time for learning from past experiences.

What are you super passionate about right now?

I serve as Board President of the York County SPCA, and I’m thrilled with how the Board of Directors and Executive Director have partnered to improve services and strengthen the organization’s capacity. Helping organizations thrive is almost as fun as helping people learn and grow.

What does leadership mean to you?

Strong leaders have an amazing amount of influence. We need to be aware of this and use that muscle gently and thoughtfully. At times it is even better to step back so others can lead.

Why is it so important to you to mentor and empower the next generation of leaders? 

I’m not going to live forever, so I spend a lot of time enabling and encouraging others to flex their leadership muscles. Fortunately, this is not a duty for me, but a true pleasure to watch others learn and grow as people and leaders.

Carolyn’s story is a reminder of the power of a mindful pause, stepping back to reflect, and giving space for others to do the same. And the importance of loving your people well as you pursue your passions. 

She is the definition of a heart-centered leader, and her continued connection to the causes and organizations near and dear to her heart is inspirational. Let’s continue to embrace connection and influence. 

Successful Leaders Put People First

I’m so proud of both Meagan and Carolyn, two leaders here in our community who put people first. And I appreciate them even more for sharing, candidly, how they’re doing, along with their thoughts on leadership and giving back to the next generation.

Both women have spearheaded transformative, community-wide change. They are absolute powerhouses, and they lead with an empathetic heart

A style of leadership we can all get behind. One built on relationships and collaboration. 

As we paused to celebrate women’s history month in March, I’m thankful for my peers, my mentors, and this strong generation of female leaders.

Let’s fondly remember the leaders who mentored and empowered us. 

For me, that looks like remembering leaders who helped me on my path and encouraged me to find my own style and voice. Special humans who saw things in me that I hadn’t yet recognized, had more confidence in me than I had in myself. And who nudged me forward on my leadership journey and showed me the importance of serving your staff.

It’s so important to have those champions. It’s important to be that champion, too. To have interest, genuine interest, empathy, and compassion. To help people recognize their own skills, gifts, and talents. To be a little kinder than necessary to those we interact with every day. 

And to put people first.


About Meagan Given

Meagan is the Executive Director of the White Rose Leadership Institute and is the driving force behind Give Local York, which will take place on May 7, 2021. She enjoys all things true crime. Yep, she’s an armchair detective. She also loves cross-stitching subversive messages. 

To learn more, visit whiteroseleadershipinstitute.org and givelocalyork.org.


About Carolyn Warman

Carolyn is a consultant for nonprofits here in central Pennsylvania and beyond. She loves to knit and has even been talked into making a manatee, narwhal, and Pegasus for her beloved granddaughters. She’s also an avid birder and can identify 25 different birds just by their songs.

To connect or learn more, visit carolynwarman.com.


Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They are the backbone of the economy, serving childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more and to donate, visit childcareconsultants.org.